Former elementary school social worker arrested for child molestation

Clifton Kelly. Courtesy of the Pawtucket Police Department

By: John Krinjak


Twitter: @johnkrinjakABC6

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) — A former school social worker was arrested for child molestation, Pawtucket Police said on Tuesday.

Clifton Kelly, 65, of Warwick, who was arrested on Friday, was employed as a school social worker at the Cunningham Elementary School on Baldwin Street.

Kelly was arrested for one count of second-degree child molestation and released on bail following his arraignment on Saturday. 

"Just found that out. I can’t believe it. He’s always been a great help to my family. This is really shocking news for sure," said parent Monique Thompson, who has children who attend Cunningham. 

Though police in Pawtucket are leading the investigation, they’re not saying whether the abuse happened at the school. But in a statement Superintendent Patricia DiCenso says the school department had concerns that they reported to police and DCYF. 

"My family has been part of the school for three years now, and I dealt with him personally, so to have such a strong accusation, and then if it was a student from the school I would definitely be extremely concerned," said Thompson. 

Thompson says Kelly helped her daughter Eva deal with a bully last year–and Eva would often have lunch in his office. 

"The most concerning thing to me is my daughter having lunch with him. I’m really shocked for the safety of the children at the school. That’s really depressing," said Thompson. 

But Eva tells us she never noticed anything off, saying, "I had lunch with him almost half of the year last year, and I don’t know. It just really shocked me. It never occurred to me that he would do this."

We tried to reach Kelly for comment at his home in Warwick, but no one answered the door. 

"Hopefully they’ll do a thorough investigation. I’m in support of Dr. Kelly at least until further information comes along. Other than that he has my full support," said Thompson. 

Kelly’s next scheduled court date is September 20th. 

Patricia DiCenso, Superintendent of the Pawtucket School Department, released the following statement:

The Pawtucket School Department is disappointed to learn of the arrest of a School Social Worker. The School Social Worker is no longer employed with the PSD.

The Pawtucket School Department considers the safety of children to be its highest priority. The Pawtucket School Department reported its concerns to DCYF and the Pawtucket Police Department and has cooperated fully with the Pawtucket Police Department’s investigation.

Any additional questions should be referred to the Pawtucket Police Department.

Kelly is due back in court near the end of September.

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017